Miles Taylor, President Donald Trump's former homeland security chief of staff and current Google staffer who became a controversial figure within the company for his work on Trump's child separation policies, is taking a leave from Google until after the presidential election.
Taylor appeared in an anti-Trump ad Monday and backed Joe Biden for president, drawing the president's ire on Twitter on Tuesday morning. Taylor will use his time off to engage in more political activity, according to a source familiar with the situation. He'll then continue a new role he recently took after he returns to Google.
"What we saw — week in and week out, after 2½ years in that administration — was terrifying," Taylor said in the video released Monday. "The president wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposed and to fuel his own agenda."
Last fall, Google hired Taylor, who served as chief of staff for Kirstjen Nielsen, the former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and with now-acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. Taylor joined Google to work on government affairs and national security issues, but it caused a stir among lawmakers and employees, some of whom had actively protested their company's relationship with the government and its policies.
In July, the company and Taylor agreed on transitioning him off of a general national security role and into a position that focuses on security policy for things like artificial intelligence, the source told CNBC. Last week, they agreed he'd take a leave of absence so that he could pursue personal political activity ahead of the election, the source said. His leave of absence is effective until Nov. 4, the day after Election Day.
Google declined to comment.
Since Taylor joined the company, employees have expressed concern about him at all-hands meetings, where executives defended his hiring and downplayed his involvement in DHS policies. That came a few months after more than 1,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding that Google abandon bids or potential bids with U.S. Customs and Border Protection contract. A couple of months later, Democratic congressional leaders scolded Google CEO Sundar Pichai for hiring Taylor, whose team had supported Trump's executive order to ban travel to the U.S. from Muslim countries and DHS' family separation policies.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post published Monday, Taylor tried to distance himself from the Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant families entering the country, despite the fact he worked closely on the policy, as BuzzFeed news previously reported.
On Tuesday, Trump attacked Taylor on Twitter, claiming he did not know his former staffer. Pictures of the two men together quickly surfaced on Twitter in response.
Just before Taylor took leave last week, he changed roles to U.S. lead for advanced technology and security strategy, where he'll focus on driving Google's agenda related to AI, quantum computing, cybersecurity and emerging digital threats, according to the source. Previously, his role was overseeing Google's national security policy efforts, including Google work related to the defense, law enforcement and security.
Taylor's transition comes ahead of a tumultuous U.S. election, where Trump is seeking a second term against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Tech companies and their staffers have found themselves in the line of fire as both sides — particularly the Trump administration — launch public attacks against them in recent weeks ranging from allegations of bias to antitrust violations.
Among Taylor's claims Monday were that Trump withheld funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Californians dealing with the fallout from wildfires because the state didn't support him and because it wasn't a base for him "politically." He also claimed Trump wanted to push the boundaries on border policies for the purpose of scaring off potential violators. "He didn't want us to tell us it was illegal anymore because he knew — and these are his words — he had 'magical authority,'" he is seen saying in the video.
"Even though I'm not a Democrat and disagree on key issues, I'm confident that Joe Biden will protect the country and I'm confident he won't make the same mistakes as this president," Taylor's video concluded.